Thursday, January 31, 2013

Letter from Lama Habash to her father (George Habash)

Arwa kindly translated the Arabic letter that I had posted:
 "A Letter to my Father on his Fifth Anniversary

In our discussion, Dad, about Arab nationalism, communism, religious expansion in our countries and Palestine’s liberation I admit I was always critical. But today I find within me something I didn’t realize I’d had and I want to tell you about it. It has nothing to do with analysis and theories. It’s more like a painful ailment that doesn’t heal. I feel loss and alienation. How could one spend an entire lifetime without a homeland!

Why am I feeling this now? I don’t know. However, it seems inevitable that there will be a day when one wakes up to realize that one’s pursuits in life aren’t really life, but more like attempts to forget or ignore life, loss, identity, homeland and Palestine. I’d thought Palestine was a part of speech. Father, I belong to a generation that cannot be blamed for this because Palestine is a homeland we never experienced. How can I long for something I’ve never known especially since Palestine, in my mind, is associated with worry, security procedures and a confiscated childhood. Every time I heard your favorite phrase “every span of Palestine” I’d realize that the road ahead was still far. This preoccupied me when I was a child: when would we arrive! Until this worrisome moment…

Today I know, Father, that a quiet life without concerns has no flavor. It has no past, no future, no memory, no soul, no warmth, no homeland. This land, which is home to all prophets including Jesus, who came to spread love, tolerance, peace and the bread of life: this land itself is the bread of life. Today I share with you the ailment of incurable love and insist on your historic slogan “return to Palestine, every span of Palestine” because every span of Palestine is a part of our hearts. How would one bargain one’s own flesh and soul? Today I share the optimism and confidence you’d always had, which I didn’t understand at the time.

Today I share your confidence and certainty. Please don’t ask me how or why. Does love move through birth or heritage or historical inevitability, which you talked about frequently? I don’t know. But I want to tell you today, five years after your departure, that I’m incurably in love and I understand you today more than ever and I share your dream and certainty that we will return."